It’s been just five months since Real Madrid won the Champions League to complete a first La Liga and European Cup double for 59 years, but these days the atmosphere has soured considerably.
Already eight points behind early La Liga pacesetters Barcelona, Los Blancos have suffered shock league defeats to Real Betis and tiny Catalan side Girona — the club’s first loss against a newly-promoted side since 2008.
For Real, and in particular manager Zinedine Zidane, the Champions League in recent years has provided respite from underwhelming La Liga performances.
The club has made the competition their own, winning three of the last four editions — last year becoming the first team to win the competition back-to-back in its current format — to take them to a record 12 European Cup titles.
But this year, the hangover from their weekend domestic struggles is beginning to linger into their midweek European nights.
On Wednesday, Zidane’s Galacticos were taught a lesson by Mauricio Pochettino’s swashbuckling upstarts.
It wasn’t just the defeat, it was the manner in which it was dished out; comprehensively outplayed and outfought by a Tottenham side still fresh and inexperienced at this level of European football.
Such was the convincing manner of Spurs’ 3-1 win at Wembley stadium, when asked if he was surprised with the victory, match winner Dele Alli, bristling with confidence, replied: “To be honest, no.”
But while the white half of north London are perhaps starting to feel as though they belong at Europe’s top table — Pochettino proclaimed the win put Tottenham among the continent’s “elite” — Zidane was not allowing the white side of Madrid to become too despondent.
“No. I don’t think we’re lost,” he told reporters after the match when asked if his club were in crisis. “Maybe we are missing the calm we normally have in front of goal.
“We are making chances and not taking them but for sure we will turn this situation around.
“When you lose two games in a row, your confidence can’t be great but we have three or four days to rest and think about the next game.”